25 October 2010

At home with yourself. Learning about life


Sunrise, Bedlam Farm

Thomas Merton wrote that life consists of learning to live on one's own, spntaneous, freewheeling. To do this one must know yourself, and be at home with yourself. This means learning who you are, learning what you have to offer to the world, and then learning how to make that offering truthful, valid. Honest.

Every day, I receive the great gift of learning more about myself, of understanding who I am, what I can do, what I can offer. There is great safety in that. It melts away fear and confusion, and the swirling anxieties that drown so many of us in our own sad stew.

Off on the Hadley experiment, to broaden the idea of a book tour, to enter into a conversation about the nature of writing, to listen and learn and take advantage of this rare opportunity to enter the world and meet some of the people who live in it. I am lucky to be traveling with my former girlfriend, as we share our knowledge of life every day. And always root for one another.

The Izzy Story

Touring Days

Izzy watches me, wherever I am,wherever he is. The Soul Dog, my spirit guide, I think.

He will not be joining me on this round of the book tour, and I will miss him, but not much. Dragging a dog around the country is a pain in the butt, and distracting too, unless you're in the circus. He loves Tracy, the farmsitter, shameless hound that he is. Leaving him will mean fewer stops, later sleeping, more focus in my talks and discussions. Maybe the photo ops will not be as good. We'll see. I was startled by the unanimity of the responses – in a word, good for me.

Couple of people wrote in to say hospice and other functions should be exceptions. I don't think so. There are always exceptions, and I am sure there will be events I will take him to – the Lions Dinner in Greenwich in December, for one – but otherwise, his touring days are over.

Lots of e-mail requesting caps, calendards, T-shirts from Bedlam Farm. No thanks. Notecards and books are about it for me.

The War on Snobs

Making peace with snobs

I have to be honest, I have a warped side of me that has always cherished making snobs uncomfortable. Sometimes I think it's my mission in life. Snobs abound. There are literary snobs (they do not like books about dogs) and there are dog snobs (the border collie snobs have never recovered from my training a border collie by letting him run along (a fenced portion) of the Garden State Parkway after trucks). There are media snobs – The New York Times is the revealed word, every inch, and after that, NPR.

There are culture snobs – Facebook is a violation of sacred space, and e-books are not books, and there are technology snobs – Ipads are toys and messaging and e-mail are not writing. There are photography snobs (always center photos, never show sunspots) and political snobs (used to be knee-jerks on the left, now knee-jerks on the right).  And educational snobs – there are hundreds of colleges in America, but everybody has to go to one of five or six. I have had the glorious honor of ticking all of them off at one point or another in my life.

The thing about snobs is that they are not always wrong. Often, there is a lot of truth to the things they feel and the issues that plague them.

But snobs share a common trait – a whiff of superiority and condescension. If I have ticked them off, the favor has been returned. I like to think that as I grow and evolve, I will get past this need to torment snobs. Somehow, I doubt it.

Brush a barn cat

Barn cat ecstacy

Minnie the Barn Cat loves to be brushed, and Maria loves to brush her. Minnie is a sweet marauder. She dropped a squirming mouse to come say hello, a huge compliment.

Morning in Bedlam.

Hadley bound

Cranking myself up for Hadley, and the Hadley Experiment. 3 p.m., S. Hadley Public Library (no books sold or signed there) and then, at 7 p.m., Odyssey Books. Bringing the camera and the Ipad and hope to get some nearly real time photos up. Then, Thursday in Framingham. I'm going to the Concord Book Festival's Writers Breakfast at the Concord Inn the first week of November, and then I return to the writing life. Am eager for that.